SOCIAL COHESION AND ERADICATION OF POVERTY COMMITTEE
Strasbourg, 20 June 2011
1. Agenda of the meeting [CONF/SOC(2011)OJ1] : the draft agenda was adopted
2. Synopsis of the meeting held on 5 October 2010 [CONF/SOC(2010)SYN4] : the draft synopsis was adopted.
3. Presentation of the outcome of the official launch of the new Social Cohesion Action Plan (28-29 October 2010) : the role of the INGO Conference in its implementation
Antonina Dashkina (Vice-Chair), who had represented the INGO Conference at Skopje, reported on her presentation. She drew attention to the fact that the Action Plan would now be tried out in three pilot regions (Mulhouse, Wallonie and Romania). The successor to the Social Cohesion Committee would need to keep in touch with this work.
4. Invitation to the Seminar and Conference on Shared Social Responsibility: Securing trust and sustainable social cohesion in a context of transition – 28 February 2011 – 1 March 2011 – Brussels, organised by the Council of Europe and the European Commission.
Irene Donadio (Chair) informed the Committee that this event concerned the Charter of Shared Social Responsibility which was being drawn up by the Social Cohesion Development and Research Division (concerning the respective roles of the State, civil society and the private sector in the field of solidarity and welfare). The INGO Conference had been invited to send several members of whom three would have their expenses reimbursed. She invited those who were interested in attending to contact her as soon as possible after the meeting.
5. The European Year of volunteering (2011) and the follow up to report by Luca Volontè, Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly, [Doc. 12430] and the Parliamentary Assembly’s Recommendation to the Committee of Ministers [Recommendation 1948 (2010)]
More details would be given about this at the plenary INGO Conference the next day.
6. Forthcoming adoption of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, INGO action to support ratification
The Chair emphasised the importance of this forthcoming new legal instrument and urged NGOs to be active in convincing governments to ratify it.
7. The Council of Europe programme and budget for 2011 – priorities in the field of social cohesion
The Chair invited members of the Committee to follow the link from the agenda in order to access the programme and budget of the Organisation for 2011.
8. Actions on Roma – mapping Roma programmes and actions in the field
The Chair expressed the view that this was an area where NGOs could demonstrate their added value to the work of the Council of Europe by virtue of the numerous field projects they were running in the member states.
9. Update on health
a) 3rd meeting of the Committee of Experts on Child-Friendly Health Care, Strasbourg, 24-25 February 2011
The Chair drew attention to this important topic and asked for INGOs with specific experience in this area to get in touch with her.
b) Update on the outcome of the INGO health prevention working group
Guy Schlaeder informed the Committee that, on 28 January 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly was going to hold a debate on preventive health care policies in the Council of Europe member states [Doc 12219]. The health prevention working group had contributed substantially to the preparation of the Assembly’s report and intended to continue its activities, taking up subjects such as access of vulnerable groups to health care.
10. Outcome of the Standing Committee meeting on 24 January 2011 and preparation for the forthcoming meeting of the Conference of INGOs on 27 January
The Chair informed the Committee that the INGO committee structures were about to be reformed due to the drastic reduction in the budget of the Conference of INGOs. In future there would be only three INGO committees and they would meet only twice a year. The new bodies would be set up at the June session and it was vital to ensure that dynamic and active persons were elected to chair them. The Committee then held an extensive discussion about the priorities for the future structures, activities and working methods in the field of social cohesion and eradication of poverty.
Many valuable suggestions were made. In particular:
- Attention was drawn to several areas of key importance which should not be lost sight of in the reforms: unemployment, poverty and health were mentioned by many speakers, who felt them to be especially crucial in the current economic crisis.
- A number of ideas were put forward for the restructuring of the committees, e.g. committees on human rights, on participatory democracy and on European citizenship.
- It was generally agreed that much more work would have to be done in informal working groups or taskforces on specific topics targeted at components of the Organisation’s restructured programme of activities. Such groups would, however, have to be self-financed. Some thought that all resources should be concentrated on the working groups and that permanent committees could be dispensed with.
- More use should be made of electronic communication between sessions of the committees and working groups, particularly as resources would not permit frequent meetings. The occasional formal meetings needed to be better prepared by circulating papers in advance.
The Chair underlined the need to concentrate work on the areas where the INGOs could make a real impact on the agenda-setting and implementation of the Council of Europe’s activities. She invited members to make known those areas where their organisation had done particularly good work and which they would like the Council of Europe to take up in the future.